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CONS

ORG

OFFICE OF THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY


WAYCROSS JUDICIAL CIRCUIT

George E . Barnhill 306 AlbanyAvenue (912) 287- 4395


District Attorney Waycross, Georgia 31501 FAX (912) 287 -4399

Captain Tom Jump


Glynn County Police Department
Investigation Division
157 Public Safety Blvd .
Brunswick , GA 31525

Email: tjump @ glynncounty- ga.gov

Ref: Glynn County , The Shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery , Feb 23rd , 2020

Dear Captain Jump:

My office received the Arbery autopsy report [dated 4 / /2020 yesterday and have reviewed it
yesterday and this morning. We were waiting on this important evidentiary article before
finalizing our opinions .

However, since we were initially requested to handle the case the victim s motherhas clearly
expressed shewantsmyself andmy office off the case. She sees a conflict in thatmy son works
in the Brunswick District Attorney ' s Office where Greg McMichael retired some time ago . She
believes there are kinships between the parties [ there are not and has made other unfounded
allegations of bias [ es ]. As such , I believe it is better formy office to step out and am going to
recuse myself and the Assistants working forme from handling the case. I am contacting the
Georgia Attorney General Office and seeking their assistance in finding another District
Attorney in the State to handle the further evaluation for prosecution this case. That is , to
determine whether there is sufficient evidence on which to make a Grand Jury presentation or
not

Given theGovernor' s current shelter in place order and JusticeMelton s Judicial Emergency
Order; I can not venture a guess as to when they will move on this request, and once another is
found; when that District Attorney will have the staff available to review this casefile. I hope
for all involved itwillmove along as quickly as possible.

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After talkingby telephone with you yesterday , I appreciate there is immediate pressure on your
department as to the issue of Arrest” . Since I have already given you an initial opinion the day
after the shooting, I feel I can still comment on this limited issue.

First
I am the current elected District Attorney for the Waycross Circuit, I have worked as a criminal
prosecutor for some 36 years. As an Assistant District Attorney in Waycross and Brunswick , as
Chief Assistant in Waycross for 20 years and served as the District Attorney the last 5 years ; I
have been actively involved in over 100murder cases and assisted other prosecutors with at least
100 more. I have no idea how many Aggravated Assault cases involving gunshots and wounds
of alltypes; Plus I have attended countless schools, classes and seminars on criminal
prosecution and criminal acts and evidence. Myself and one ofmy Senior Trial Attorneys have
reviewed the evidence extensively and concur on allpoints.

Second
As to the case at hand: It is my professional belief the autopsy confirms what we had already
viewed as shown in the video tape, with the photographs & from the witness statements taken
immediately at the scene. The autopsy supports the initial opinion we gave you on February
24th , 2020 at the briefing room in the Glynn County Police Department after reviewing the
evidence you had at that time. Wedo not see grounds for an arrest of any of the three parties.

Third
Itappears Travis McMichael, Greg McMichael, and Bryan William were following, in
pursuit burglary suspect, with solid firsthand probable cause, in theirneighborhood, and
asking/ tellinghim to stop. Itappearstheir intentwas to stop and hold this criminal suspectuntil
law enforcement arrived. UnderGeorgia Law this is perfectly legal,
OCGA 17 -4 -60 A private person may arrest an offender if the offense is committed in his presence or within his
immediate knowledge . If the offense is a felony and the offender is escaping or attempting to escape, a private
person may arresthim upon reasonable and probable grounds of suspicion .”

Fourth
It clearly appears Travis McMichael and Greg McMichaelhad firearmsbeing carried in an open
fashion . The investigation shows neither of them to be convicted felons or under felony
supervision , they were in a motor vehicle owned by Travis McMichael. Under Georgia Law
this is legalopen carry .

OCGA 16- 11- 126


) Any person who is notprohibitedby law from possessing a handgun or longgun may have or carry on his or her
person a weapon or long gun on his or herproperty or insidehis orher home, motor vehicle, or place of business
withouta valid weaponscarry license.
(b ) Any personwho isnotprohibited by law from possessing a handgun or long gun may haveor carry on his or her
person a long gun withouta valid weapons carry license, provided thatifthe long gun is loaded, it shall only be
carried in an open and fully exposedmanner.”

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Fifth
The video made by William Bryan clearly shows the shooting in realtime. From said video it
appears Ahmaud Arbery was running along the right side of the McMichael truck then abruptly
turns 90 degrees to the left and attacks Travis McMichael who was standing at the front left
corner ofthe truck . A brief skirmish ensues in which it appear Arbery strikes McMichael and
appears to grab the shotgun and pull it from McMichael The shot is through Arbery s right
hand palm which is consistent with him grabbing and pulling the shotgun at the barrel tip , the
2nd and 3rd wounds are consistent with the struggle for the shotgun as depicted in the video , the
angle of the 2nd shot with the rear of the buttstock being pushed away and down from the fight
are also consistent with the upward angle of blood plume shown in the video and that McMichael
was attempting to push the gun away from Arbery while Arbery was pulling it toward himself.
The 3rd shot too appears to be in a struggle over the gun . The angle of the shots and the video
show this was from the beginning or almost immediately became-- a fight over the shotgun .
Given the fact Arbery initiated the fight, at the point Arbery grabbed the shotgun, under Georgia
Law , McMichael was allowed to use deadly force to protect himself.
Just as importantly, while we know McMichael had his finger on the trigger, we do not know
who caused the firings. Arbery would only had to pull the shotgun approximately 1/ 16th to
1/ 8th of one inch to fire weapon himself and in the height of an altercation this is entirely
possible . Arbery s mentalhealth records & prior convictions help explain his apparent
aggressive nature and his possible thought pattern to attack an armed man .

OCGA 16 - 3- 21Use of Force in Defense, once confronted with a deadly force situation an individualis allowed to use
deadly force to defend themselves or others OCGA 16 - 3- 23 . 1Georgia' s NoDuty to RetreatLaw , an individualis
notrequired to back away from or submit to an attack; OCGA 16 - 3- 24 [b ] The useof force which is intended or
likely to cause death or greatbodily harm to preventtrespass on or other tortious or criminal interferencewith real
property other than a habitation or personal property is notjustified unless the person using such force reasonably
believes that it is necessary to preventthe commission of a forcible felony.
OCGA 16 - 3- 24 .2 A person properly and legally defending themselvesis immune from prosecution

For the above and foregoing reasons, itis our conclusion there is insufficient probable cause to
issue arrestwarrants at this time.

As to any further issues on whether to presentthis to a Glynn County Grand jury, that willhave
to wait for the next District Attorney s review . Please consider this an OPEN file until that
decision is madeand restrict the release of any information under Georgia Open Records
Act requests.

Sincerely

George E . Barnhill
District Attorney
Waycross Judicial Circuit

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